Tour the Owner of McKinnon and Harris’ Backyard

In Richmond, VA, Will Massie creates an oasis just steps from downtown.
Willmh 659 V2

Kip Dawkins Photography

It is no surprise that the CEO and cofounder of McKinnon and Harris, Will Massie, has a superb backyard. However, it wasn’t always this idyllic. McKinnon and Harris is named for Massie’s grandmothers, who had memorable Virginia gardens of their own. So when Massie and his wife, Alice, purchased a home 25 years ago, they jumped at the opportunity to own a quarter-acre lot in Richmond’s Fan District. “We loved it instantly for its charming disrepair; as a designer and maker of garden furniture, the house and garden were the perfect canvas,” Massie says.

When the couple first started building the garden, they had three goals in mind. The first was to include an oasis just steps from the city. “We included water features that add to the tranquil ambience and the tall hedges and treillage allow you to feel completely removed from the world around,” Massie says. The second was to forge a connection between the interior and exterior, since the garden previously had no relation to their home. In addition to adding more windows on the garden side of the home, “we chose antique pieces for the garden that we’ve collected on family holidays, like we have throughout our home,” Massie explains. Finally, they wanted a “foundation of green” all 12 months of the year. “We can see every part of the garden from the house, so it just made sense to have something that looks lush and beautiful year-round,” Massie says.

3 Tips for Garden Design

  • Create garden rooms. I love to create rooms within a garden, which adds to the feeling of an interior space. For example, the trellis enclosure in our garden creates a focal point and private roomlike space that has become our outdoor living room in the garden. We’ve created hallways that go to different garden “rooms” and align with the house’s windows in a graceful manner.
  • Choose enduring furniture to complement the garden. Use natural materials like aluminum, wood, and stone that have proven the test of time. Avoid plastic in the garden.
  • Select a cohesive color palette. A cohesive color palette is calming and refined and allows the garden to take center stage.